Microsoft and Ford team-up on EV energy management

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Ford and Microsoft have teamed together to deliver Microsoft Hohm to US owners of EVs in order to help save on home energy costs

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A couple of the drawbacks of owning an electric vehicle (EV) will be remembering to recharge it daily and knowing what time of day or night is best to take advantage of the most cost-effective electricity tariff. According to some figures, a household’s energy consumption could double while an EV is charging. To help overcome these conundrums, Ford and Microsoft have joined forces to implement the Microsoft Hohm energy management application for Ford’s EVs.

Hohm is an Internet-based service, free to US users, that provides insight into owners’ energy usage patterns and suggests ways to increase conservation, like the most economical time to recharge their EV.

Ford is the first to use Hohm, starting with the Focus Electric next year.

The companies believe that smart recharging habits will also help utility companies understand and better manage the increased demands placed upon the electrical grid because of EVs.

“Ford and Microsoft both share a strong commitment to contributing to a better world. Today, we begin the next major step in our working together and leading the way for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability,” said Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. “For Ford, this is a needed step in the development of the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles viable.”

The companies quote a recent Accenture survey, where 42 percent of consumers said they were likely to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle in the next two years.

“Electric vehicles will play an important role in the global effort to improve energy efficiency and address the issues of climate change and sustainability,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. “But as the market for electric vehicles expands, it will have a significant impact on home energy consumption and demand across the nation’s energy grid. With Microsoft Hohm, Ford and Microsoft will deliver a solution that will make it easier for car owners to make smart decisions about the most affordable and efficient ways to recharge electric vehicles, while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand.”

Ford plans to roll out five new EVs in North America and Europe by 2013, including the Transit Connect Electric this year (US) and the Focus Electric in 2011. A plug-in hybrid EV and two next-generation hybrids are planned for 2012.

Currently, Ford, has four hybrids on the road and another coming this year. They are the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid. The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid luxury sedan is also set for release in Q3 this year.

Microsoft Hohm is available for free to all US residential energy consumers and has multiple partnerships with utilities and other stakeholders already in place.

Ford and Microsoft will continue to work with utility partners and municipalities to help further develop the energy ecosystem. Ford’s work includes collaboration with a collection of North American energy companies to road-test a fleet of 21 Ford Escape plug-in hybrid vehicles. The research has accumulated more than 160,000 miles of real-world data, which provided important groundwork for the new Hohm application.

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